Author Archives: Will Parchman

Written by Will Parchman

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India, the host of the 2017 U17 World Cup, will be called a sleeping giant until we are under dirt. And in that time it’s very unlikely they ever truly wake up.

There are myriad factors in place contributing to this, of course, but India’s history in FIFA tournaments has been nonexistent. Until now. This looming U17 World Cup tournament, which begins in three months, marks a bit of history for India. It’s the first FIFA tournament the country’s ever hosted, but it’s also the first FIFA tournament any India team has ever participated in. So all the soccer world (or at least the nerdiest portions of it) held its breath Friday to see who’d face India for the first time in a FIFA-sanctioned event.

It is us, as it turns out. And USSF president Sunil Gulati, who was born in India, was on hand to enjoy the moment. And he really enjoyed it.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Jonathan Klinsmann’s 2015-17 U.S. U20 cycle had a pleasant end that masked an at times jostling road to get there.

Klinsmann finished his course with coach Tab Ramos and the U20s as the relatively unquestioned No. 1 goalkeeper for the U20 World Cup earlier this year. Klinsmann’s efforts in South Korea were not without their bumbles – he was at fault for at least two of Ecuador’s tallies in the wild 3-3 opener – but he straightened out toward the end and finished with a respectable tournament on balance. It would not be enough to label him as an immediate up-and-coming pro with a top club, but it would raise a few eyebrows and perhaps crack a few doors.

There is also the question of his heritage, of course. The fact that he is Jurgen Klinsmann’s son, a native of the very game’s lifeblood itself, would not itself get him a contract. But, again, the doors would be ajar.

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Written by Will Parchman

fccinc

When FC Cincinnati flung open the doors to Nippert Stadium for the first time, nearly 15,000 fans walked through them (FCC went on to beat the Charlotte Independence 2-1). A franchise-opening match at home in the middle of the city? Of course attendance was good. Let’s see how it holds up.

A week later FCC hosted its next game. This time more than 20,000 people showed up. And then 11,000 in the driving rain not long after that. Perhaps something was happening in the land of Skyline Chili we had not anticipated. A tremor in the Midwestern Force.

There was something happening here, perhaps something beyond reckoning. And as if there was any doubt, Wednesday allayed any notions to the contrary that FC Cincinnati is about to be the next expansion team admitted to MLS.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Bruce Arena went for it.

This Gold Cup roster… is fun.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Early last year, almost as soon as he was legally eligible to do so, McKinze Gaines signed on the dotted line for Wolfsburg.

It represented a significant closed circle for the Austin, Texas native, who’d first lassoed the attention of the country at the 2013 DA Winter Showcase and eventually found himself as one of the key contributors on that U17 MNT cycle. Untethered by an MLS academy and bristling to try his hand overseas, Gaines’ move to Wolfsburg was a hugely significant milestone.

A little more than a year later, and Gaines is moving on.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Manny Schellscheidt was never a man given over to delirious spasms of hyperbole when it came to young prospects. He’d been doing this too long, had seen too many young players fall victim to a development process that can be hard to understand at best and viciously duplicitous at worst. Freddy Adu had once passed through his U.S. U14 ID camps, after all.

So when Schellscheidt first saw the young, diminutive kid embarrassing defenders one afternoon on a small field in Pennsylvania in 2011, there was little broader fanfare about it. Nobody knew who the kid was yet on any substantive level, and Schellscheidt had his reservations, although he knew the kid was special. The old coach stuck around a few days, noted the kid’s name in his notepad, talked to the club coaches on hand and then left assured of at least one thing in the absence of all else.

He would see Christian Pulisic play again. And this time he’d be running the camp.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Forty three years ago today, in the stadium now known as Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Johan Cruyff showed 53,700 people something they’d never seen before.

The Netherlands arrived at the 1974 World Cup on the heels of an impossibly successful qualification campaign. Bolstered by what was at the time their best ever team, the Dutch ripped through their qualifying group with four wins from six games and a plus-22 goal differential. At the time, Ajax’s Total Football was seeping into the international consciousness as the Dutch team switched positions like some sort of supercharged ballet. With the legendary Johan Cruyff leading the charge, defenses didn’t seem quite certain what to make of it. It wasn’t until they met West Germany in the final that a team managed to pull the curtain across the show.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Muscle memory is the bedrock of modern soccer. As a global family, we’ve been playing the game now in some form for centuries, and in our current iteration the oldest fully professional side is more than 150 years old.  With so much time elapsed, gently tottering off under the bridge of time for decades and decades, the game’s flag standard is firmly planted in the ground, more or less unmoving.

At least in terms of FIFA rules, which the vast majority of the world recognizes in its leagues stretching down to the elite youth level, understanding the importance of muscle memory in this is to understand the game itself. Soccer is largely soccer because both collectives and individuals can click into a sort of athletic autopilot, allowing the game’s flow to dictate their fluid decisions on an almost subconscious intellectual level.

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Written by Will Parchman

ronald

By the time the news circulated that Cristiano Ronaldo’s perfumed caravan was ready to leave Spain, the hounds were out. Mostly on Twitter.

Sporting, Cristiano Ronaldo’s first professional club in his home country of Portugal, inscribed a passionate tongue-in-cheek-but-not-really plea to its native son to come home. Bolton, for some reason, told us they would not under any circumstances open contract negotiations with CR7. Salisbury FC did a thing too.

The complications surrounding why exactly Ronald opted to move on not only from Real Madrid but from Spain entirely are complicated if you care enough to dig and extremely uncomplicated if you want the Cliff’s Notes. In essence, Spain is alleging the preening Portuguese hasn’t paid a significant chunk of his taxes – more than $14 million, to be exact – and is attempting to shake it out of him. Cristiano Ronaldo, in response, has apparently opted to pick up his ball and head home in furious protest.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Perhaps the most culturally important facet of Christian Pulisic’s breakout as a bonafide USMNT star is the suddenly blossoming reality that he’s a legitimate crossover personality. For a significant portion of the professional sports-watching populace on these here shores, soccer is a dormant sport, only to be poked awake every so often for major events and happenings.

The unearthing of an International Star certainly qualifies. And Pulisic is as close to one as we’ve had… perhaps ever.

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